Self's Murder

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  • Edition: Original
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-08-11
  • Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
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Gerhard Self, the seventy-something, sambuca-drinking, Sweet-Afton smoking sleuth returns in a riveting new mystery about money-laundering, murder, and mafiosi. Despite his failing health and his girlfriend's pleading, Gerhard Self won't stop doing what he does bestinvestigating. And his most recent case is one of the most intriguing of his career. Herr Welker desperately wants to write a history of his bank, but to do so he needs Self to track down a mysterious silent partner. Self takes the job, but is soon accosted by a man who frantically hands him a suitcase full of cash and speeds off in a car, only to crash into a tree, dying instantly. Perplexed, and convinced there is more to the case than he is being told, Self follows the money. Soon he finds himself traveling to eastern Germany, where he encounters some of the most unsavory villains he has met yet.

Author Biography

Bernhard Schlink was born in Germany. He is the author of the internationally best-selling novel The Reader, which was an Oprah's Book Club selection. He lives in Berlin and New York.



In the end

In the end I did head back there.

I didn't have Nurse Beatrix sign me out. She wouldn't even let me tackle the short, easy paths leading from the Speyerer Hof Clinic to the big Ehrenfriedhof Cemetery and the Bierhelder Hof, let alone the long steep path that leads up to the Kohlhof. In vain I told her how years ago my wife and I used to go skiing on the Kohlhof: in the morning we'd head up the slope, the bus filled with people, skis, ski poles, and toboggans. Until sundown hundreds would swarm over the rutted slope, more brown than white, with its dilapidated ski jump. At lunchtime pea soup was served at the Kohlhof Restaurant. Klara had better skis than I, was a better skier, and laughed whenever I fell. I would tug at the leather straps of the bindings and grit my teeth; Amundsen had conquered the South Pole with skis that were even more antiquated. In the evening we were tired and happy.

"Let me head over to the Kohlhof, Nurse Beatrix. I'll take it easy. I want to see it again and remember old times."

"You're doing a good enough job remembering right here, Herr Self. Would you be telling me about it otherwise?"

The only thing Nurse Beatrix will allow me to do after a two-week stay at the Speyerer Hof Clinic is to walk a few steps to the elevator, ride down to the lobby, walk a few steps to the terrace, cross it, and go down some stairs to the lawn around the fountain. Nurse Beatrix is generous only when it comes to the view.

"Look at that! What a beautiful view!"

She's right. I'm sharing a room with a tax inspector who's suffering from a stomach ailment, and the view from the window is indeed panoramic and beautiful: over the trees and valleys to the Haardt Mountains. I look through the window and think how this region, where I landed by accident during the war, had grown on me and become my home. But was I to think about that all day?

So I waited until the tax inspector fell asleep after lunch, then swiftly and silently took my suit out of the closet, slipped into it, and managed to make my way to the gate without bumping into a single nurse or doctor I knew. The guard didn't care whether I was an escaping patient or a departing visitor, so I had him call me a cab.

We drove down into the valley, first between meadows and fruit trees, then through tall woods, the sun casting bright spots through the treetops onto the road and the underbrush. We drove past a wooden shack. In the old days the town had been quite a distance away, and hikers would make a last rest stop at this shack before returning home. Nowadays the first houses lie off to the right after just two bends in the road, and a little farther, on the left, is the Bergfriedhof Cemetery. At the foot of the mountain we waited for the light to change, near an old kiosk that I always liked: a Greek temple, its forecourt built on a small terrace and its canopy supported by two Doric columns.

The road to Schwetzingen was open and straight, and we made quick progress. The driver told me all about his bees. From this I concluded that he must be a smoker, and asked him for a cigarette. I didn't like the taste. Then we arrived and the driver dropped me off with a promise to pick me up again in an hour to take me back.

I stood on the SchloBplatz. The building had been renovated. It was still covered in scaffolding, but the windows had been replaced and the sandstone frames of the door and window casings cleaned up. The only thing missing was a final coat of paint to make it just as spruced-up as the other buildings around the square, all three-storied and neat, with flowerboxes in the windows. There was no indication what the building would be--a restaurant, a cafe, a law firm, a doctor's office, a software company--and, peeking through a window, I saw only floor tarps and painters' ladders, paint cans, and rollers.

The SchloBplatz was empty exc

Excerpted from Self's Murder by Bernhard Schlink
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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